New York City Your Best Tool for Learning English

As the dog days of summer drag on, I realize that I find myself indoors more often that I’m outdoors. The excessive heat makes me uncomfortable and cranky, so this late summer time of the year, I resort to the comfort of my air conditioned apartment. With that said, sometimes I need something to do. As a lifelong fan of reading, I’m also looking for the next best thing to read. Once I moved to New York City two years ago now (Happy Anniversary to me!), I was shocked to find how many New York City-specific magazines are out there. I love reading these titles since it helps me feel more in tune with the city, and I always get so excited if a restaurant that I frequent is featured in a magazine—it makes me feel that I’m part of the in-crowd!


If you’re adjusting to English while you’re new to New York City, these are fantastic magazines to look into, as they’ll not only help you practice your reading and translation skills, but they’ll also keep you up-to-date on everything that’s happening here! Another great thing about this digital age that we’re in is that you can subscribe to these magazines through your phone, so if you can’t get your hands on the print copies, you can scroll through your phone! Plus, all three of the titles I discuss below are very active on social media, so be sure to follow them and stay informed on the go!

Gotham Magazine

This a great resource for not only staying informed on what’s going on in The Big Apple, but it’s also a great snapshot of the current culture and pulse of life in the city. With coverage on the best and newest places to eat and drink and highlights of some of the most influential people in New York City, this resource can give you an educated and cultural peek into how the elite and upscale are maintaining their quality of life. Since this is in print as well as digital (and they’re also all over social media), this will give you incredible practice with your English. The writing isn’t too sophisticated, so don’t worry about feeling like this magazine will go over your head.

Time Out New York

This is actually one of my personal favorites, and I still utilize this magazine as a go-to resource if I’m looking for something to do or if I need more information about the city itself. You probably know by now that New York City is a thumping heartbeat that has never-ending life, and this magazine is a reminder of that. The coolest aspect of this publication is that it’s totally free, and it’s distributed on the streets! You might even find them distributed in the subways—which really makes the average New Yorker part of the experience. Absolutely track down this piece, and be sure to pay attention to the tips it provides throughout, especially since it quite often speaks to the new New Yorker (that’s you)! It also uses a really fun tone in its writing, so it never feels like you’re reading something dull or boring. Another favorite feature of mine is their socially-fueled articles on life in New York City. Like, “14 Things Only New Yorkers Will Understand About the Subway System,” or “12 Things No New Yorker Will Every Say.” These features will make you nod and grin in agreement, and they’ll convince you that the struggles or inner thoughts you have on a daily basis make you a real New Yorker!

Downtown Magazine NYC

This is another phenomenal resource for those looking for cultural insight on New York City. Features include first-person pieces on life in the city, advice on making the most of your space, and guidelines for navigating the day-to-day hustle of life in New York City. This title covers practically all ranges of topics, from dining, events, fashion, and news. The other great thing about Downtown Magazine NYC is that the pieces are written by a wide variety of talent, so the content won’t ever feel stale or repetitive. I also find myself reading content about topics that I otherwise wouldn’t care about simply because they’re New York City focused. For example, I’ve never been one to care much about fashion, but because NYC is one of the fashion capitals in the world, I find myself interested in that kind of coverage. You might surprise yourself, too!

Next time you find yourself at the newsstand looking for something to read during your morning commute, be sure to pick one of these up!

Category : New York

A few months ago, I shared with you some of the best (and worst) television programs that feature New York City not only as the setting, but almost as one of the main characters. As a now-resident of New York, I love watching movies that feature my city as the location, as I love recognizing the scenery and the points of location. It makes me feel proud and excited that I can call this great city my home!

As with anything in the entertainment field, language plays an integral part of the production. It’s also a great cultural insight, as you can learn about fashion and beauty trends through the decades, slang and phrases that are specific to the times, and even musical influences. By watching these movies, you can get an idea of not only how New York City has changed throughout the years, but you can take a trip down the English language lane.

new york movie

Here are a few of my favorite movies that take place in New York City—and I’ll share how you can apply your English translation skills with each one.

Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985

I had to include this one first because this is simply just one of my favorite movies since I was a child. Madonna was a huge cultural musical icon in the 80s, so her role in this film was a really big deal. As a kid, I used to want to dress like her, do my hair like her, and even though I was too young, I yearned to do my makeup just like her! This movie took place in both Central Park and the Lower East Side; I now live 5 blocks from the park, and my office is just blocks from this neighborhood, so it’s crazy for me to watch how the scenery has changed in the past 30 years (as well as the fashion trends—yikes!). While you’re watching this movie, pay attention to the phrases that Madonna and the other actors use—while some of them are outdated, some are still applicable today! Try a few out during your daily life, and just wait to see how people react!

Manhattan (1979)

Aptly named, this is a New York City classic. If you’re not already familiar with Woody Allen, here’s your first introduction. Largely celebrated as a director that loves to make the city one of his main characters, he made this film as a “love letter to the city.” The plot centers around a love story, but if you can, focus more on the background imagery and the finer details. Since this is in black and white, there’s a certain nostalgic nod that Woody Allen uses to New York City. If you pay attention to this, you’ll notice that the movie is more about the city than about the tale of the two people. Listen to the way people speak to each other, and since this movie is decades old at this point, you might realize that many of the phrases are outdated and no longer used—but it’s still a great way to put your translation skills to practice.

Taxi Driver (1976)

This is another one of my personal favorites. The first time I watched it I wasn’t living in New York City just yet, so I wasn’t paying much attention to the background or the scenery. I was able to understand the plot and admire the acting of the legendary Robert De Niro. Years later, once I moved to the city, I decided to revisit the film and pay more attention to the location placement and observe how the sites have changed since 1979. Heavily placed in Times Square, you should also be able to notice the changes since then, and you might marvel at how people behaved and spoke to one another once upon a time. De Niro has a beautiful New York accent, so it should be fun watching and hearing it, since I’m sure you’ve heard it before at this point, too!

There are dozens of movies out there now that feature New York City as one of its main characters, but don’t forget about some of the classics so you can see how language and the city itself has evolved over the years!

Category : New York

Even before arriving to New York City, you probably were already familiar with Broadway and its cultural significance to the city. If you haven’t been to a show yet, make this part of your to-do list now that you’re here! Luckily, you have many options, as there are 41 different theaters to choose from that feature Broadway shows that seat from 600 to almost 2,000.

If you’re just as new to English as you are to New York City, visiting one of these iconic shows is a great way to put your translation skills to use. Do some research on the play before attending, and get a general feel of the plot. That way, once you’re in the theatre, you can practice your English with the comfort of already knowing the backstory. Since there’s always plenty of dialogue mixed in with singing and dancing, you’ll be entertained while focusing on the English. And don’t forget to hang onto your Playbill! This is basically your program for the show, which includes the written background of the play, the names of the actors, and you’ll find that it makes a timeless souvenir for your trip to Broadway.


Here are just a few of my favorite theatres (and shows) during my time in New York City.

Ambassador Theatre, 219 W. 49th Street

For Christmas two years ago, I received tickets to the musical, Chicago. I ended up taking my sister, and we had a BLAST. Because the location is just outside of Times Square, I showed her around the heart of this neighborhood, and we had no trouble finding a place to grab dinner beforehand. We got there with enough time to kill that we were able to take plenty of pictures of this legendary theatre and share them with our family before curtain call. The show was so much fun, and we ended up buying the soundtrack after the show so we can relive the night over and over again. The other cool aspect of this play is they made a movie version of the musical, which I found just as fun and entertaining as the Broadway version!

Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th Street

This is another one of the most famous Broadway theatres, as it has the greatest number of award-winning plays and musicals than any other theatre on Broadway. Right now, it’s hosting Hamilton, one of the most celebrated musicals of all-time. It’s incredibly difficult to get tickets, and you might find that if you just linger outside the theatre, people are taking selfies in front of the signage since it’s so popular! It even holds the box office record, so even if you can’t make it this round at this theatre, it’s bound to pop up again at another location.

Minskoff Theatre, 200 W. 45th Street

I’m including this one because I have a bit of history with this one. When I was in high school, my family took a weekend trip to New York City to see The Lion King. After a day of seeing the 9/11 memorial and visiting the Statue of Liberty, we made our way to Broadway to see this show, and it quickly became the highlight of my trip. The movie was one of my favorites as a kid, and I even knew every single word to the songs since I listened to the soundtrack on repeat. So seeing the musical rendition was such a treat! It’s still running today, over 15 years later, so I’d love to see it again and find out how much the show has changed!

Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 W. 45th Street

I’m saving my most sentimental theatre for last, since this was the very first Broadway show I ever attended. When I was a freshman in high school, I briefly flirted with the idea of being an on-stage performer, so our choir class took a field trip to New York City to see Kiss Me, Kate! Back then, the theatre was called the Martin Beck Theatre, but it’s still the same, classic location. It was an amazing experience, since not only was it my first Broadway show, but it was also my very first trip to New York City! I wish I could have told my 14-year-old self back then that 15 years later I would call The Big Apple my home!

Category : New York

These activities that I’ve outlined below also offer you the opportunity to put your translation skills to use. Whether it’s reading, listening, watching, or engaging with others around you, the chance to engage with your English skills is all around you!

Don’t let the August heat get you down or deter your excitement about being in the Big Apple. I’m introduced a few activities happening in August that will keep you cool (nighttime in the city can be pleasant and comfortable!) and entertained!

Shakespeare in the Park, Central Park

This is a New York City classic activity, so gather a group of your friends, and invite them to experience one of the most celebrated festivals of the year. Located in Central Park, this event is easy to get to and hard to miss. Plus, since it’s free, you’ll be feeling like you’re getting in on an ultimate and exclusive deal! Until August 13, the park will be performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of Shakespeare’s most popular and well-read publications. Here’s my tip: because this is such a popular destination, be sure to get there early to secure seating—they go quickly! Plus, since it’s a night show, you’ll stay cool. Watching this live performance is another great way to practice your translation skills. I’d also recommend researching the plot before arriving so you at least have a background of the story before arriving—that way, you can focus on the acting and the actual show without having to focus solely on translating!


Jazz Age Lawn Party, Governors Island

This event is another widely celebrated party, as hundreds of people hop on the ferry and head to Governors Island to go back in time to the 1920s and dress like those from the past. Scheduled for August 26th and 27th, this event has fun and timely cocktails, throwbacks to some of the best music from this period, and the best part is seeing everyone dressed in fashions from an era almost 100 years ago! While this event is a bit costly (starts at $55), it’s a great way to get out of the city just for a day and do something totally different. (Just be sure to find a nice tree to hide under if the forecast is calling for high temperatures!) While you’re adjusting to English, this would be an interesting time to jump into this “time machine” and overhear how English was used almost a century ago and hear how it’s changed since then. You’ll either be nostalgic or thankful that we live in 2017!


Sunset Sail Happy Hour

Whether you’re in New York City for the long-term (like me!), or if you’re here temporarily, I highly recommend to everyone that they take a night sail on the Hudson River at least once. It can be breathtaking to view the city at night while you’re on land, of course, but it’s a completely different experience while you’re on the water. Seeing the cityscape from a distance and watching the lights glisten and reflect off the water will make you pinch yourself and make you wonder why anyone would ever leave this place! Plus, the night breeze will make you that much more thankful that you left your apartment for this experience! This particular cruise provides dancing music, light bites and drinks, and even fun, temporary tattoos! Costs vary from $20-$35+ depending on the day that you choose to depart, but ask anyone, and they’ll tell you it’s worth every penny. Marvel at the sights with your friends and others around you, and hear how they express their admiration, and you might pick up a few new English phrases about loving New York City!

Don’t let the heat bring you down—get out there and see what New York City has to offer, even when the days are long and hot. And these activities will keep your brain engaged as you keep practicing your English skills!

Category : New York